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    A second post about Sony and their Playstation blog so soon after my blog review post on the two Sony blogs, I hear you cry? Well, yes, but it’s a great example of dealing with a situation that has arisen on the blog, so I just had to. (And no, I’m not angling for a free game!)

    As you might expect, Sony’s Playstation blog has been attracting a lot of comments, a situation that most of us no doubt view with a tinge of envy. However, it seems that a lot of the comments have been rather too off topic and the “noise” factor has been deafening, drowning out relevant comments on the posts. Effectively it’s been creating a free for all ‘bulletin board’ type of feel which isn’t great in a blog environment.

    Following a number of requests from their readers, Sony have decided to take steps to reduce this, and they announced what they were intending to do about it in a post from Patrick Seybold which stated:

    Since we launched the blog we have been extremely liberal in our monitoring policies because we wanted you guys and gals to get to know each other and share ideas. Lately, however, we have been getting complaints that there is so much noise accompanying each post that people cant separate the good meat from the chatter. We definitely hear you. So, we are going to step up our moderation of off-topic, nonsensical posts or posts on topics that we have already addressed (Yes, we hear you on wanting more demos consider that box suitably checked). If you have suggestions not related to the particular topic of a post, please use our comment form.

    Why’s it good to have done it like this? Well, I reckon there’s a few good reasons why:

    • Listening: they’ve been listening to what their readers have been telling them, in this case that there is too much “noise” in the comments section – they’ve listened and have adapted accordingly. When you are running a business blog, it’s important to remember that it is written for the readers, not for the authors.

    • Clarity and openness: they’ve explained clearly what is happening, why the actions have been taken and what they hope will happen in the future. The more open (and authentic) you can be in how you deal with your readers the more successful your blog is likely to be.

    • Forward Thinking: they’ve kept in mind the audience that they wish to attract and wish to participate on their blog – in this case, it was an audience which seemed to be alienated by the “noise” factor in the comments section. Making the changes allows them to focus back on their target audience.
    • Developing: a blog is always going to be developing. While it shouldn’t be seen as an unfinished development project, it’s important that we learn as we go along and change accordingly. Therefore it’s encouraging to see a large corporation both willing and able to address an issue and ring the changes.

    • Giving Options: it’s important not to shut down the channels of communication and if people want to ask or comment about other topics (as had been the case)then they still need to be able to. Here, readers have been offered a specific way to post their other comments using a alternative method.

    There is of course the possibility of this swinging too far in the other direction with over zealous moderation of comments, but I think the likelihood of that is small – personally, I’d prefer to focus on (and learn from) the way in which it was handled which I think has been spot on.

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    Sony BlogsWell the last time I looked at a Sony blog, it was with mouth open wide in disbelief as the ill conceived and executed ‘All I want for Xmas is a PSP’ fake blog hit the blogosphere and was in turn hit by it.

    Things have moved on and, over the past two months, Sony has launched two new blogs for different parts of their business:

    • one is the Sony Playstation blog aimed fairly and squarely at game players and developers of the Playstation product range;
    • the second is the Sony Electronics blog from that arm of the company which intends to focus on “Electronics-related activities, products and customers in the U.S.”.
    Two very different blogs, aimed at different audiences and done in very different ways but both ostensively Sony corporate blogs.

    Sony blogs: Sony Playstation blogSony Playstation Blog
    The Sony Playstation Blog is run by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and is a highly stylised blog built on a WordPress platform which is being written by a host of authors across a range of different departments within the PlayStation division. Development was carried out externally by Josh Hallett together with marketing firm Clark/Nikdel/Powell according to The Ledger.

    Posting is both regular and frequent as you would expect with the number of authors (though that takes a real level of organisation, I can assure you), but that is no more than the readers would expect in this market sector. The content is generally good with a mix of games information, firmware details and a more strategic view in some posts from “the top”. Good use of imagery and linking as well.

    The blogs colour scheme uses a black / dark grey background with the white text and the colours from the Playstation logo featuring on top. Altogether, very slick and supports the overall branding really well – though a slight concern that the colour scheme might prove difficult on mobile devices due to the smaller screen size, something that might be relevant considering the blog’s target audience.

    Even in its structure, the blog has been nicely put together with friendly permalinks, judicious use of categories and emphasis in the sidebar highlighting the comments that the posts are attracting a nice way to both encourage and emphasise them.

    Sony Electronics BlogSony Blogs: Sony Electronics Blog
    The Sony Electronic Blog has a totally different feel to it, not only in look (obviously!) but in the way that it is put together and presented. This would be fine it has a totally different target audience after all but there are aspects which struggle in its current state.

    Like the Playstation blog, this is also built on WordPress and while visually clean, the overall look and feel is relatively standard and uninspiring. It also gives the feeling of not yet being finished with:

    • the URL as part of news.sel.sony.com rather than its own domain;
    • calling it the “SEL External News Blog” in the Title Tag rather than using any specific Sony branding;
    • no link back to the blog homepage on the blog itself;
    • and, indeed no real homepage but instead going directly into the latest posts.
    Reinforcing the lack of posts with a (current brief) Recent posts box at the top of the sidebar is probably not the most sensible move either.

    In this start up period, there is a single writer who is Rick Clancy, the head of Corporate Communications for Sony Electronics. While clearly someone skilled in writing and who has both the ability and the authority to speak openly all good characteristics for a corporate blogger he is currently writing alone and the resulting weekly post is probably not sufficient for the sort of blog that this is trying to be.

    In short there needs to be more content though the quality of what is there looks to be good and certainly has managed to elicit responses and indeed readers leaving detailed comments, appraisals and criticisms. It’s difficult to know whether there is a follow up which is going on off blog to answer the comments but that would probably be sensible – perhaps some additional resource required? In any case, they are certainly throwing up topics which warrant posts focusing on the areas being asked about, thereby allowing Sony to put their side of the story.

    Summary
    I should start by saying that it’s great to see Sony using blogging to communicate with its customers and developers – for a company which is not known for its openness, this is a great move and one that I hope we will see others following.

    However, in looking at the two blogs, you will have no doubt gathered that, as they stand, I consider that the Sony Playstation Blog to be an excellent example of a well constructed blog while the Sony Electronics blog has had a less auspicious launch.

    And yet, which has the greatest potential? Well, this time my vote goes to the Sony Electronics blog and not just because of the relative position it is starting from. Its Playstation neighbour is vibrant but may find it difficult to create a real central personality because of the large number of authors and the nature of the gaming industry.

    Conversely, I get the feeling that the SE Blog has a potentially important role to play in the Electronics side of Sony’s business and presents a huge opportunity. The type of comments coming in show the areas which are most of interest to the readership and are giving Sony the chance to address these concerns for a whole raft of their customer base – what an opportunity and the ideal mouthpiece to achieve it through at their disposal! Let’s hope they grab this opportunity with both hands!

    As it stands: Sony Playstation Blog, a straight A grade. Sony Electronics blog, a C but with signs of real future potential if handled correctly.

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